Many working-age men were drafted into the military during World War II to fight on the frontlines. This situation led to a shortage of workers and an increased demand for laborers to fill their vacancies. Encouraged by the government, millions of women across the country rolled up their sleeves and joined the workforce, leaving behind their traditional domestic activities and taking over jobs stereotypically done by men.
The “Rosies,” named after the iconic Rosie the Riveter recruiting poster, worked in any industry in need, including factories, shipyards, welding facilities, plane hangars, and electronic workshops. In those positions, the workers faced many challenges, from hazardous working conditions and food rationing to finding childcare and gender discrimination.
In only three years, the number of women working outside of the home dramatically increased, from 27% in 1940 to 37% in 1945. After the war, the Rosies were expected to resign from their jobs and return to their household duties. But there was no way back. Women did not intend to give up their financial and personal freedom. The Rosies had changed the workplace forever and continued to challenge and expand women’s role in society throughout the next decade.
National Rosie the Riveter Day is celebrated annually on March 21st, honoring the 16 million working women who joined the workforce during WW2. Its purpose is to raise awareness of their contribution to the home front and American society.
For many years, a group of Rosies, with lawmakers’ support, lobbied for a designation of March 21st as National Rosie the Riveter Day, and in 2017 it was the first time that the day was celebrated with the official approval of the Senate. But the day has yet to be codified as a national holiday, and the Congress approval needs to be renewed every year, which is often not the case.
To celebrate the day, you can participate in events held by various organizations, such as the American Rosie the Riveter Association, Rosie the Riveter Trust, and the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, CA. You can contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress to make the day an official holiday, spread the rumor on the day, and pay your respect to the courageous Rosies in social media using #RosietheRiveterDay and #wecandoit.
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